Election 2012

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • Many labeled Obama's sure-to-be campaign-defining speech as Rooseveltian (the conservation one, not the New Deal one), but Jonathan Chait notes that its more accurate label is "a frame for a campaign to contrast himself with Mitt Romney."
  • More from Chait: A list of reasons that Newt is awful and why they may not be the downfall of his campaign. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Unless you're a Democrat, then you can laugh really loudly.

Obama Takes Cues from Occupy

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

For most of this year, it’s fair to say that liberals have been angry with President Obama’s reluctance to attack Republicans or build a liberal narrative with his rhetoric. And while some critics took this complaint to comical extremes—see: Drew Westen—the frustration was real, even among those who were (and are) skeptical of the bully pulpit.

As of late, however, Obama has grown a lot more aggressive in his attacks on the GOP; since introducing the American Jobs Act in September, the president’s political strategy has centered on demands for new stimulus, vocal attacks on the GOP for its defense of the wealthy, and a constant push to create contrasts between himself—as a defender of the middle-class—and the Republican Party.

Romney Wasn't Happy "Just Earning Money" at Bain

AP Photo/Joe Cavarette

Mitt Romney, the living symbol of the 1 percent, hasn't always viewed his stint in the private sector as the epitome of his experience. On the campaign trail, Romney loves to rail against "career politicians" and tout his credentials as a businessman who can bring an economic acumen he believes is lacking in the current White House (willfully ignoring that he first ran for political office in 1994 and has been in perpetual presidential-campaign mode for at least the last five years), saying in one debate:

Quayleman for Romney

Disney

Former Vice President Dan Quayle declared his support for Mitt Romney today. Quayle dinged President Obama and explained his endorsement in an op-ed published in the Arizona Republic newspaper earlier today:

Holy Crap, Newt Gingrich Might Actually Be the Republican Nominee

When an election is some time away, pollsters typically ask people, "If the election were held today, who would you vote for?" It often seems like a silly question, because of course the election isn't today. But eventually, today comes. We imagine that up until the election, people's beliefs about the candidates are unformed and not held with much conviction. But as Election Day approaches, those beliefs harden, to finally come to fruition in the vote.

Gingrich Still Leading in Iowa

The latest survey from The Washington Post and ABC News shows former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with a crushing lead in the Iowa Republican caucuses. Thirty-three percent of Iowa Republicans support Gingrich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination, compared to 18 percent support for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 18 percent support for Congressman Ron Paul, and 11 percent support for Texas Governor Rick Perry. What’s more, Gingrich leads on the concrete questions as well. On the question of electability: “29 percent of likely caucus-goers say Gingrich represents the Republicans’ best chance to defeat President Obama in 2012, while 24 percent say so of Romney.”

Where Are Gingrich's Enemies?

For many members of Congress, it must seem truly strange to observe the current Newt Gingrich boomlet. This is, after all, the same Gingrich who was run out of Washington 13 years ago after his party suffered a rare midterm loss that left Republicans barely hanging on to control of the House. Gingrich not only stepped aside as speaker but resigned his congressional seat.

Will Donald Trump Revive Birtherism?

By any reasonable account, Donald Trump's pseudo-debate should be laughed off as a media spectacle. Ron Paul had the appropriate response, immediately rejecting the invitation. His campaign chair said that the debate "is beneath the office of the presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity."

Unfortunately, Newt Gingrich—who never passes up the opportunity for a good clown show—is the field's current front-runner. "This is a country of enormously wide-open talent. You know, Donald Trump is a great showman. He's also a great businessman," Gingrich said yesterday after an hour-long meeting in New York with Trump.

The Journal vs. Fox (Huh?)

Hard though it be to believe, a Wall Street Journal editorial Monday actually had the temerity to criticize Fox News. Not by name, of course—Murdoch editorialists are nothing if not discreet when going after other parts of the Murdoch empire—but the criticism was directed at some unnamed organization that puts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly on television every night.

The criticism came in an editorial on the late, lamented Herman Cain campaign. After noting that Cain was in no way ready for prime time, the editorial asserted that Cain had too many flaws to take on President Barack Obama. At that point, the Journal dipped its toe, gingerly, into criticism of the right-wing media. Cain’s unelectability, it said,

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • Mitt Romney is a veritable scholar of the evil art of flip-flopping. His definitive lecture on the subject can be found here (and here is an example of Mitt Romney practicing the witchcraft of which he speaks). He is also an influential expert on the art of not taking a stance at all, as evidenced in

Romney Can't Even Make Up His Mind on Flip-Flopping

Via TPM's Benjy Sarlin comes this devastating five-minute video of Mitt Romney railing against the dangers of politicians with shifting policy views. Only this was in 2004, when Romney was just the moderate governor of a liberal state, not the wannabe presidential candidate who would say whatever it takes to earn his party's nomination.

Ron Paul's "Big Dog"

Where Newt Gingrich's new Iowa ad waxes poetic about American exceptionalism, Ron Paul goes for the Spike TV production route in his new commercial set to air in Iowa and New Hampshire. Titled "Big Dog," the ad doesn't actually feature Paul himself until the necessary approval tag at the end. Instead, it's a series of flashy graphics set to intense rock music, as buildings explode to represent the federal agencies he would abolish (outdoing Rick Perry by two, Paul has five he would ditch: Education, Interior, Energy, HUD, Commerce) and an 18-wheeler runs over the image of a government bureaucrat.

DNC Fights Back Against Voter Suppression

Republicans have closed access to the ballot for millions of Americans all in the name combating voter fraud, largely a fairy-tale threat drummed up by Fox News in the wake of ACORN.

With model legislation provided by the America Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the new wave of Republican state legislatures elected in the 2010 midterms proposed a series of similar bills across the country. Some states, like North Carolina, still had Democratic governors to veto the legislation, and in others such as Maine, the voters turned against the new bills.

Gingrich Runs First Iowa Ad

Even though the Republican presidential nomination is set to kick off when Iowans head to their local schools and community centers for the caucuses in just 30 days, I'm skeptical of current polls. Over the weekend, the Des Moines Register found that 64 percent of likely caucus goers have yet to see any of the candidates in person. Besides the national debates, they haven't seen many on their TV screens either; Ron Paul was the only candidate with significant commercial buys earlier in the year, and the rest of the contenders are only now beginning to purchase airtime.

Let Elections Be Elections Again

Presidential primary campaigns used to have a predictable script, one that went as follows. Before anyone started campaigning, journalists declared one candidate to be the early front-runner, based on his standing within "the establishment," that shadowy group of party insiders whose string-pulling power, attenuated though it might be, still exists. This candidate was often a sitting or former vice president (George H.W. Bush in 1988, Al Gore in 2000) or had run before and fallen short (Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008). If no such person could be found, the candidate who looked strongest on paper could be a reasonable substitution (George W. Bush in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton in 2008).

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